Vile Vacation Idea: Winchester Mystery House

Okay, Okay, how many times have we seen this destination and thought, blah whatever? Yes, I know. So, a little more than a decade ago, when I was still young I went to the mansion. I boarded a flight to California and stayed there for a week.

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I visited a lot of fun places but this one was supposed to be the best. We all know the story, but a little background: The mansion was continuously under construction 24hrs to appease spirits. Sarah Winchester, owner and widow of THE Winchester maker of guns, loved séances. Who didn’t in her time? It was what all the cool kids were doing! In the séance, Sarah was advised to build and keep building in order to appease the spirits of those murdered by her husband’s guns.

Rooms that lead to nowhere, walls, and even holes in floors, this was guaranteed to be creepy and fun! So, I woke up early the day I was to visit, and went on the tour with anticipation. I didn’t feel anything. I felt like all people around were not of the undead variety. I thought, okay after the tour. I will experience something.

After the tour, I walked around the grounds in hopes to run into gardeners of the past, or even scary spirits. Alas, I was not so lucky. Sad and terrible vacation. I didn’t experience anything and I wanted to! I think I scared all the spirits away because I wanted so much to see or experience something…. maybe next time if I find myself in the area again.

 

Have you been to the Winchester Mansion? How was your experience? I would love to hear about it!

Nurse Blood by Rebecca Besser Review

Nurse Blood by Rebecca Besser Review

nurse-blood-front-cover A fast paced read, you found that the characters were built as the plot was being laid out, the description of the characters through their actions were on the nose. Also, there was not a scene that didn’t belong. While the subject and the gore was there, it wasn’t over the top and it was not done in poor taste. I was afraid there might have been a couple of tasteless gore scenes again, not disappointed.

So, Sonya is a nurse and harvests organs to sell on the Blackmarket to make extra money. She has a couple of guys to help her, but she is the main in the catching of the men to lure the men to their deaths. Sonya and her team make these disappearances quick and leave little to no traces. They have been successful, but how long could they continue to get away with this?

One victim she lures is Daniel Mccoy, he just so happens to a twin brother to an FBI agent David, who wants to find the truth behind his brother’s disappearance. While he is looking for clues and trying to find the truth, Sonya is faced with one last big harvest (that involves a family, just a warning). Will she be successful and evade David just long enough to pull off the harvest?

The writing style Besser had was perfect for character building while the plot moves forward. I really enjoy this kind of book, and would recommend this book only to people who enjoy senseless killing, fast action and the main character to be a villain. Find out what happens to Sonya, and if David ever finds out what happened to his twin brother here.

Vile Vacations: The Haunted Queen Mary Experience

qm18Visiting the retired, permanently moored RMS Queen Mary is an experience in itself. You don’t have to experience ghost activity to feel the history on board. They offer awesome tour packs where you can see the engine rooms, one of the exposed propellers, and the rumored haunted “Vortex” near the dilapidated—but beautiful—pool. I’ve been fortunate to visit several times and even stay overnight a few years ago. I will give you a tour and then explain my experience. You can decide if the place is really haunted or not.

qm10The ship in general is a fantastic place to visit with so much history to explore. For Titanic enthusiasts, it’s a must-visit. As part of the White Star Line, this so closely resembles Titanic, that you will find yourself doing double-takes as you pass the promenade deck, the dining room, and even the inner room halls. Not only does it resemble the famous iceberg-disabled ship, many movies, and TV shows have been filmed on the Queen Mary so you might find the place familiar as you step on board, which adds to the mystique. The Queen Mary has graced the sets of movies like Titanic II, Pearl Harbor, Aviator, The Natural, The 13th Floor, and television series such as The Search for the Next Elvira, Moonlight, Murder She Wrote, Unsolved Mysteries, and Quantum Leap. They also have historical exhibits that run for a short time. If you are into the royals and fashion, you might enjoy the pricey but beautiful exhibit on now, “Diana: Legacy of a Princess” where you can see many of her iconic dresses in person. They also have other royal history and some of the clothes from the current monarch. For military buffs, the QM played a big part in the WWII effort as a transport ship for Australian and New Zealand soldiers. Per Wikipedia,

In the WWII conversion, the ship’s hull, superstructure and funnels were painted navy grey. As a result of her new color, and in combination with her great speed, she became known as the “Grey Ghost.”

As far as hauntings on the ship, there have been many reported. No wonder, since at least 49 crew and passengers are known to have died during the Queen Mary‘s service as a luxury liner.

qm16In the engine room, our tour guide told us of one such haunting. Although somewhat “set-up” by and ominous number 13, the guide recalled a sailor was crushed by this water-tight door. They aren’t clear on the “why”, but it’s attributed to him either playing chicken or going back to grab something in an emergency. The ship’s underground system of working tunnels is certainly creepy, but as for ghosts? Who knows?

qm19Another creepy location on the ship is the ominous 1st Class Pool. Those horror buffs out there will swear it was the pool in the movie Ghostship, but it’s not.
Still, the effect of the once-beautiful place being in complete disrepair sent a chill up my spine. Pardon the dim pictures because of lack of light and the fact that we could not explore the place fully because most of the pool was closed due to safety regulations. The most haunted place in the pool area is purported to be what they call the “Vortex” located in the pool showers.qm11I took a picture standing right in the middle of the “Vortex” although warned by the tour guide, “It may not come out, or your phone might die.” He said reports of this happening are frequent and that several people have found light spots or “ghost” images in their photos. I played along, and it was fun to imagine, but as you can see, that did not happen. My picture is clear of “ghosties” and I didn’t feel anything but the same creepiness you feel when entering any derelict structure.

So, if I didn’t feel anything in the most haunted part of the ship, what did I feel? I had two experiences that will stay with me forever.

qm14First, when we were walking through the bowels of the ship, I kept feeling like someone was behind me. I was the last one in the tour at that time. I kept looking behind me and would catch just a shadow or a blur. Not really anything tangible, but enough to creep you out. This was before the tour guide told us about the crewman of hatch 13 that was crushed there. It creeped me out, but only because I kept feeling the presence the entire time we were in the down below.

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When we went into this particularly dark part of the ship, standing at the doorway into the place, I became nauseous. The boat is moored, so there is no movement to make me sick. I stepped into the huge room and felt like someone had given me a push into the room. Again, I was the last one in and no one was behind me. My nausea grew and I wasn’t able to even step forward to where the rest of the tour was. My husband asked if I was okay and I nodded, motioning him on so he look at the mechanics of the ship. As my stomachache grew, my attention was drawn to a door up high looking over us. The door was open, and light shone through from an unseen bulb, but it wasn’t anywhere anyone would be. However, in my periphery, I saw someone standing there. I looked up and nothing was there. It kind of creeped me out, but after the “sighting”(?) I felt fine again and was able to enjoy the rest of the tour without incident. In the pictures (Again I apologize for poor light shots.) the large shot is the massive room we entered. There are light spots, but I doubt they were ghost proof because it was so dusty in the room. In the second shot, you can see the room where I felt the presence standing. Doesn’t appear that I caught anything on film. However, a few people who have seen the shot wonder if I did catch a ghost. The head is higher than a normal human would stand. Is the partial shot of a mustached man a spirit? Or is it just a pipe and a trick of sight? I still don’t know what I believe about the picture, but I do know a male presence was following me during this part of the tour. Was a ghost or spirit following me through the crew hatches to cause menace? Or was he guiding me to make sure I stayed safe? Or was it merely making its self known to mark its territory?

 

qm3qm5My second experience happened in our suite. We stayed in the Eisenhower Suite. If anyone knows me, they know I am so not a history—especially political—buff. If I know history, it’s usually fashion or something I’ve had to research for a book. I knew nothing about Eisenhower nor did I have an impression of the president before I stayed there. The suite was beautiful. It felt luxurious to have not only a quite sizable bedroom (for a ship) and bathroom, but also another servants quarters where I could lay out my stuff and put on my makeup. qm21Probably the posh-est place I’ve stayed, not counting the inconvenience of the bathroom on a ship. (We kept stubbing our toes on the raised bathroom entry and in the shower, the tub was so circular, you had to stand with one foot in front of the other like walking tight rope while washing.) Laying down in the fresh clean sheets with my husband next to me, I thought there couldn’t be any place more comfortable.

Unfortunately, the night of sleep was not as good as we planned. Beyond the sounds of the ship (Pipes creaking and pounding, the movement of others, and various sounds we were unused to.) I found my sleep state to hover on the “almost awake” state. qm6During this night, I kept hearing the tinkling of a dog’s tags and the light pressure of a small dog hoping on the bed. It was so real to me, I woke and looked down at the foot of the bed several times, sure it had actually happened. I haven’t had a dog since I was a child and I haven’t felt that dog jumping on the bed thing since then, but it was unmistakable. The next morning, I related the story to my husband and he agreed, he had been kept in REM sleep for what seemed like all night. Although he had the same trouble sleeping, he did not feel or hear the dog. After telling a few people of my experience—and not connecting it at all with Eisenhower and his dogs—my friends started a discussion about his dogs and which one might have been alive when he traveled on the Queen Mary in 1946. The connection is interesting.

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Eisenhower and his Terrier “Fala”.

I don’t know if Eisenhower even boarded with a dog on his voyage, but it certainly makes sense. All I know is that it was a small-type dog like a Terrier. But what did I really experience? Was it the ghost or imprint of one of the President’s dogs? Or was it someone else’s dog that perished onboard? Or perhaps for the skeptic, it’s more believable that I had a kernel of a memory from years ago about Eisenhower having a dog that I didn’t remember…and my brain caused me to “dream” of this fact in my unconscious state?

Whether you visit the Queen Mary to experience it’s greatness or to attend the annual “Dark Harbor” Halloween event, this is a haunted locale you can’t miss. I would advise to come for the tours, but not to stay overnight, unless you don’t mind little sleep.

Have you been to a haunted locale? Tell us about it. Email: horroraddicts@gmail.com

Kbatz: Indoor Horror Scares

Frightening Flix

 

Indoor Horror Scares

by Kristin Battestella

 

Who needs to go on vacation when these rural horrors and at home perils are more than enough fright?

 

BugRetro telephone rings, an isolated and rundown motel, and blue neon lighting establish the would be rock bottom for beat up, lonely, straggly haired waitress Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy) in this 2006 psychological scare directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist). Unfortunately the solitary drinking, drug use, and one sided phone conversations become much worse thanks to the enigmatic and awkward Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) and his forthright perceptions on crickets and conspiracies. The smoke detector, a pizza delivery – even the disappearance of Agnes’ son years prior is newly suspect. Violent, intrusive ex-husband Harry Connick Jr. (Copycat) is equally solid thanks to meaty one-on-one dialogues, masculine tensions, and terse back and forth exchanges. There’s exposition, sure, but these conversations realistically rely more on past emotions and mistakes the characters already know. This is a messed up, small, and sad little world with more pronounced accents for the Oklahoma setting and a one room design that looks ten years older anchoring the dramatic first hour as the creepy crawlies, military history, and medical paranoia increase. Just because one can’t see the infestations that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, right? People flipping out over bugs invisible to the audience can be unintentionally humorous, granted. However, the well edited camera cuts and movements within the tiny stage space ala the Tracy Letts (Killer Joe) source play accentuate the increasingly crazy theories and jumping to conclusions extremes – which are in turn ridiculous and unbelievable. Even if there is a grain of truth impetus and misplaced maternal instincts realized too late, sparse uses of bite marks, blood, plastics, tin foil, and bug lights – as in dozens of bug lights and wall to wall tin foil shiny – isolate our lead pair within their conspiracy together. The zapper glow adds a surreal, padded room reflection where homemade madness trades one type of abuse and insanity for another. Let’s pull out our own teeth because the government put bugs in our fillings! Okay! This is not scare a minute slasher dicing horror as some viewers would expect but rather a freaky thinking person’s examination of mind and body fears and inside and out delusions all done without CGI and $250 million hyperbole. As to the slightly confusing post credit clips, I suspect the first is where Agnes’ mental breakdown began and the second is when her delusion passes the point of no return. Of course, I could be wrong, as it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to watch this particular movie while I had a hives breakout!

 

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Housebound – This 2014 New Zealand import isn’t as financially strapped as other low budget terrors, but this horror comedy does have plenty of old fashioned basement trappings, ominous neighbors, potential paranormal activity, unexplained voices, and one eerie abode with a bad history. Accents and place names might be tough for some and viewers have seen this type of isolated or laid up and monitored scary previously. Fortunately, the titular punishment leads to some new crazy versus supernatural spins along with lovely outdoor photography, old time radios, dated computers, dial up modems, tape recorders, Polaroids, and gasp corded phones. Shrewd exposition – calling into a paranormal radio show to tell an encounter – compliments the quick newspaper research, and a well designed lighting scheme with noir smoke, darkness, solitary lamps, and an aged, golden patina adds atmosphere. Is this merely clutter, leftover antiques, attic access, creaking doors, or something sinister? Clueless parents may seem annoying to start, but we come around to our bad girl with a ‘tude emo lead as the activity escalates. Though there are a few jump scares, this is not akin to today’s paranormal reality series or shock and awe shenanigans. The comedy is not gross out, laugh out loud either, but rather a generational quirky, kooky household objects, and battling bemusements – old toys are both creepy yet humorous. Disbelieving authorities, surprising movements, and other unexpected interference keep the eponymous limits from becoming stagnant as more pieces are added to the mystery. This puzzle is not in your face horror, but the majorly upticked final half hour puts everything perfectly on its ear and will have the audience holding its breath. And let me reiterate, there is no, repeat, no reason for a forthcoming stateside remake!

 

Late PhasesA pleasant, mature ensemble including Ethan Embry (Can’t Hardly Wait), Tina Louise (Gilligan’s Island), Karen Lyn Gorney (Saturday Night Fever), Dana Ashbrook (Twin Peaks), Tom Noonan (The Monster Squad), and Lance Guest (The Last Starfighter) battle the werewolves afoot as blind veteran Nick Damici (We Are What We Are) moves to a fishy retirement community in this 2014 tale. Headstone shopping, senior discounts – it’s expensive to die, and such issues acerbate the grief, discomfort, and difficulty adjusting to new surroundings nevermind ominous hooded visitors, suspicious animal attacks, or finding a gunsmith to make silver bullets no questions asked. Cranky encounters with nosy old ladies build humor and drama, investing the audience with a likable protagonist and quips about old people all smelling the same before dog door scares, shadows at the window, and werewolves breaking and entering. Granted, some will be put off by the hokey wolf suit. However, darkness, smart camera angles, and suspenseful canine versus lycanthrope action hide most of the monster design while good gore, echoes on the fallen telephone, and violent sounds on the other side of the wall add fear. Monthly preparations mount as neighborhood clues and a keen sense of smell could identify the wolfy during the countdown till the next full moon. The cops may be tired of answering elderly calls and family ditches their defenseless parents, but those left behind must grapple with religious redemption, Vietnam fallout, and haunting sacrifices – familiar topics not often discussed in horror. Yes, there are some flaws here with confusing logistics, poor editing, and weak effects. Fortunately, this grown up Silver Bullet and endearing last hurrah makes its scares and emotions felt with horror and mystery amid a refreshing real world honesty.

 

Leave it!

 

Red State This 2011 eighty-eight minutes establishes its small town mood quickly with bigoted protests, homophobia, and rebelling against redneck Middle America ignorance and hypocrisy. The too chill classroom and modern teens are however immediately annoying – three dudes spewing gay slurs and lame, compensating gang bang talk deserve what comes to them and the audience never has a reason to care. There are smartphones and porn sites, but mullets, back road car crashes, a trailer in the woods, cages, and sex being the devil’s business comments forebode a rural horror potential that instead gives way to misused hymns and Biblical quotes in uncomfortable cult dressings. Disturbing family congregation cheers and askew, from below camera angles are meant to reflect this warped, but the gross, in real time sermon steers the picture into heavy handed commentary. The first five minutes were already unnecessary and I really wanted to skip over this icky segment and turn the movie off all together in the first half hour. If I wanted to get disgusted by corrupt shit, I’d watch the news. Every fifteen minutes viewers are continually betrayed with a pulling the rug out bait and switch combining for some kind of clunky horror FBI raid meets zealot save the children siege. I see why stars like John Goodman and Melissa Leo were interested in the subject matter, but there’s no finesse in the attempted statements or falling flat scares. Hate crimes and horror really don’t mix. Trying to be witty dialogue ends up as corny misses – and I love Kevin Smith’s humor in Clerks and social winks in Dogma. Once again, a one and the same writer/director really should have had another person tell him you can’t squeeze a bigoted drama horror movie political action film together and expect something fulfilling. While I applaud the edgy approach and true indie notion of for the people by the people film making, the self promotional on demand distribution and lack of recognition here is not surprising. Not only does this toss in every taboo possible, but the wanna be shrewd controversial never makes up its messy mind.

It Came From the Vault: New Year’s Resolutions Are for Everyone, Even the Undead by Heather Roulo

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How are your Resolutions coming along? In this short Guest Blog I found in the Vault, by Heather Roulo.  A Resolution’s list fit for a zombie!

New Year’s Resolutions Are for Everyone, Even the Undead

by Heather Roulo

The holidays are tough. Even being undead doesn’t put an end to the stress and expectations. So, for the New Year, I’m posting my resolutions. If I can stick to them, so can you!

  1. Diet & Exercise: I haven’t been feeling myself. I’m sluggish and my figure has suffered. From now on, it’s quality food all the way: Human brains, no more animal brains no matter how tempting they look. And the new pedometer I found ensures I’ll shuffle at least 5,000 steps a day. Gotta keep going while I have two good legs, especially since the left one is looking a little soggy.
  2. Reevaluate What I’m Doing with my Undead Existence: This is all we get. At any time, an angry mob, accidental avalanche, or something pointy could come along and I’d be finished walking this earth for real this time. I didn’t like it when my life flashed before my eyes the first time, so my undead life needs to be full and rich, because re-runs are never as good.
  3. Take A Trip: I can’t remember the last time I took a vacation just to see the world. Flying is out, since they locked down all the airports, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped others of my kind from reaching every corner of the earth. With a little determination I can hitch a ride on some survivor’s RV and truly explore nature.
  4. Manage Stress: It’s always fight and hunt, hunt and fight around here. When does a zombie get to just relax? And even when I get the chance, it’s hard to chill when the rest of the horde is getting ahead. But I need to find me time. There’s nothing more peaceful than a deep dark hole, and I’m resolved to dig myself a nice one.
  5. Manage Debt & Save Money: I have totally cut my addiction to credit cards and hardly spend a dime anymore, but somehow creditors continue to hound me. I’ve eaten a few, but it’s never as much fun when they’re chasing you. A little more fiscal responsibility and maybe I can pay off those debts and get them off my back.
  6. Improve my Knowledge & Learn a New Skill: With time, people change. I definitely have interests I’d never have considered a few years back: anatomy, the mechanics of doorknobs, and easy solutions to barbed wire, to name just a few. I’m thinking there must a school, or class, or maybe an online course I can take. If not, I’ll figure it out. Maybe I’ll write a book, because if I’m confused then others are too.
  7. Participate more in my Community and Give Back: Charity begins at home. When I have a lot, you know I share. My hole is your hole. My brains… Stay away from my brains.

And I’m going to take a minute to congratulate myself on last year’s resolution to Drink Less & Smoke Less. My new fear of fire really cut back on the smoking, and alcohol is tasteless. I can’t get drunk, and rarely experience social anxiety anymore. I can’t remember the last mixer I attended. It’s true, that if you avoid situations where you’re used to drinking, you fall out of the habit. Sure, others might say I take a swish now and again, but it’s medicinal. It clears the moss off my teeth.

Times keep changing, but it’s funny how resolutions aren’t that different no matter who you are. So, keep me honest and ask me, next year, how the diet went.

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Press Release : Sharkantula by Essel Pratt

 

A gripping novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

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When a genetically modified tarantula finds itself loose in the Great White shark exhibit at Shark World, the feisty arachnid sinks its fangs into the main attraction. Without warning, the Great White mutates into Sharkantula and the opening day show turns deadly.  The mutated shark/tarantula hybrid is hungry and ready to feast upon the flesh of those that don’t run away fast enough to escape her webbing.  Desperate to stop the carnage, a group of Shark World employees join forces with the tarantula’s keeper in an effort to stop the devastation before Sharkantula can escape the confines of the aquatic theme park and spread her terror across the United States.

Essel Pratt is a master of horror and fantasy, conjuring tales that haunt souls and inspire imagination. As a student of psychology and teller of tales, Essel writes to share the complex nature of his imaginings with the world. His ever-expanding catalog of short stories spans multiple anthologies and collections, ranging from whimsical fantasy to bizarre horror, including everything in between. Dedicated fans have praised his creations, labeling his talents as prolific in substance.